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Friday, September 1, 2017: UZEB at the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival

It's been 25 years since guitarist Michel Cusson, bassist Alain Caron, and drummer Paul Brochu played their last notes together as UZEB. A Canadian powerhouse of jazz fusion, the group was immensely popular in Quebec and across the country in the 1980s. It won Félix awards as group of the year in 1984 and 1989 (in competition with pop and rock bands) as well as for jazz album of the year in 1983, 1984, 1986, and 1987. It also enjoyed great popularity in France and appeared throughout Europe and the far East. Between 1981 and 1990 UZEB had recorded ten albums and sold over 400,000 copies, performing concerts in more than 20 countries, an unprecedented figure for a Canadian jazz group.

And, yes, they did play Ottawa - OttawaJazzScene.ca publisher Brett Delmage can remember hearing them at Barrymore's.

UZEB was noted for what the Montreal Jazz Festival describes as "its extraordinary virtuosity and technical prowess, with an incredibly rich sound and a maturity rarely matched in the world of instrumental music". The festival awarded the group the Oscar Peterson Award in 1991 for contributions to Canadian jazz. The group's final show (until 2017) was outdoors at the festival on July 7, 1992.

Since then, all three musicians have had notable solo careers (the festival also gave a second Oscar Peterson Award to Caron in 2013 for his solo work). But, after some friendly meetings in the last decade, they found that the alchemy was still there. After a rehearsal, they decided that UZEB was back. They are currently on tour throughout Quebec.

The Gatineau Balloon Festival is also featuring other jazz-related groups on Monday afternoon – and, of course, you have the chance to see a large variety of inflated vehicles there, too. On Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, the Sax Appeal quartet will serenade the balloons taking off from the park at about 6:45 a.m.

UZEB will perform at the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival (Festival des montgolfières) in Parc La Baie (988 Rue Saint-Louis) in vieux Gatineau, on Friday, September 1, at 6 p.m. They will perform on the Hydro-Québec Stage. Information about the festival programming and wristband-passports is available at www.montgolfieresgatineau.com/en .You can also buy a day pass ($29) at any of the entrances.

STO transit routes 85 direction CÔTES-DES-NEIGES or 87 direction STATION LA CITÉ take you from downtown Ottawa to the park. To return, take STO route 67 Ottawa. The festival is also running a free shuttle service from locations in Gatineau.

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